As of 2014, Division II football coaches are limited to 36 scholarships. According to the "Standard Times," a team needs about 75 to 100 players to be competitive at the Division II level, so the supply falls well short of the demand. As a result, Division II coaches only offer partial scholarships to most recruits. Many Division II players supplement athletic scholarships with academic scholarships or other grants.
About 150 National Collegiate Athletic Association schools fielded Division II football teams going into the 2014 season. In general, the talent level is a cut below Division I, but dozens of Division II players have made it to the National Football League, including wide receiver Clyde Gates of the New York Jets and running back Michael Hill of the Green Bay Packers. Division I football teams can have 85 players on full ride scholarships and Division III teams are not allowed to offer athletic scholarships at all.
Dividing the Pie
Doling out segments of the 36 scholarships is a tricky job for coaches. "We evaluate each position so we have balance," Angelo State football coach Will Wagner told the "Standard Times." Freshman usually are offered a scholarship equal to 25 to 50 percent of a full ride. Academic scholarships and federal Pell grants, based on financial need, often supplement athletic scholarships. Since athletic scholarships are awarded on an annual basis, a player who doesn't perform well or gets injured might be out of luck the following season. Full rides at Division II schools usually are reserved for talented players who transfer from Division I programs.
Making the Cut
Division II teams seek out talented, strong and fast players just like Division I schools -- their standards are just a little less demanding. According to the National Collegiate Sports Association, the typical Division II quarterback recruit is 6 feet 2 inches, runs 40 meters in 4.8 seconds, bench presses 225 pounds and performs 345-pound squats. The average Division I quarterback prospects checks in at 6 feet 3 inches, can run the 40 in 4.6 seconds, bench press 260 and perform 426-pound squats.
Diamonds in the Rough
"Division II rosters are full of players who took awhile to develop," coach Wagner told the "Standard Times." Trying to find those hidden gems who turn into outstanding players is something of an art. Division II coaches often look for versatile kids who played multiple sports in high school and might blossom when they focus just on football. Speed and agility are highly favored. Recruiting kids with good character is essential. Even the size of a recruit's parents are considered. If the parents are tall, it might indicate a high school kid has more room to develop physically during his college years.
- College Scholarships.org: Football Scholarships for All NCAA Divisions
- "Standard Times": ASU Football: Football Athletes Follow the Money
- CBS News: 8 Things You Should Know About Sports Scholarships
- Star Tribune: Special Report: The Myth of the Athletic Scholarship
- NCSA Athletic Recruiting: Recruiting Guidelines
- D2 Football: Alumni in the NFL